11 April 2012


"Gendarmstien" trail marker.
After slacking off for almost a week, I finally stepped on to a weight scale and realized that all that good German food and no running had added a couple of pounds. It was time to get off my butt to go out for a fun run around my old stomping grounds. To keep it interesting I opted for a run in two countries, Germany and Denmark.

Europe has numerous long distance hiking trails that are often several thousand miles long, creating an amazing network of trails that span the entire continent. A couple of these trails run through Northern Germany and Denmark. I decided to run part of the Gendarmstien trail that is part of the E6 European Long Distance Trail and runs along the Germany-Denmark border. Since the border also has a coastal border along the Flensburg Fjord, most of the Gendarmstien trail runs along the coast of Denmark.

The entire length of the Gendarmstien is approximately 50 miles long and I started my run almost at its Western trailhead. I parked my car and after running a quarter mile, I arrived at the "Schusterkate" which is the name of this particular border crossing that also happens to be the smallest border crossing in Europe and the only bridge connecting Germany and Denmark. The picture below shows the German side of the border, which is no longer manned by border police as it is now an internal EU border.

The old border marker on the German side (Deutsches Reich, Preussen).
I took off on my run around 2PM from West to East, deciding to take pictures on my way back as I was going to go out for 5-6 miles before turning back. Since I wasn't very familiar with the trail, I tried to pay special attention to the trail markers. I went slightly off course once on the way out but was okay otherwise.

The old border marker on the Danish side (Denmark).
At mile 5, I passed the Ox islands, a well known group of two islands just off the Danish coast. I decided to turn around at the 7 mile point, stopping briefly to eat a gel and drink some water. I had decided to use my Inov-8 Race Pro 22 pack on this training run to see how it rides on my back with water in the hydration bladder but little else. It worked pretty well and I decided to opt for this pack during my R2R2R attempt at the Grand Canyon in 2 weeks. It compresses very well without anything in it but is bug enough when fully expanded.

The old toll booth at the German-Danish border "Schusterkate".
On the way back I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to get off course at all. I kept a close eye at all trail markers and after passing the Ox islands again, I noticed a marker sending me left that I had missed previously. Cool, I was doing better already than on the way out...or so I thought. I continued on and after about 2 miles, I didn't notice any more markers. I continued on until I reach another town (Kollund) and continued on the highway expecting to see a turn off to the trail any time. Instead, there were no turn offs at all and I was running even further inland and further away from the coast and the trail.

When I reached the next town of Krusa, I had almost reached the border again, just at a completely different location. Finally, I was able to ask a local pedestrian for directions and she ended up sending me on the shortest route back to the border. After crossing the border, I started to make my way back to my starting location where I had left my car.

When it was all said and done I had logged 16 miles in just over 2.5 hours. Not the expected pace and certainly not on the planned course on the way back, but definitely an adventure. Two countries and 16 miles in 2.5 hours. Maybe I will be able to squeeze in another run during my layover on my way back to the US in Dublin, Ireland tomorrow.

Map of entire Gendarmstien trail along Germany-Denmark border. 

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